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Use this link to follow us on Twitter and stay abreast of the latest in frequent flyer program news, opinion, and advice.
Following are some of Tim’s recent blog posts:
The FrequentFlier Forum – Hot Topics
As always, there’s plenty of activity on the FrequentFlier Forum.
In the “Airline Programs” Forum, asdfjkl; adds to the growing list of reports of pricing irregularities on the airlines’ websites. In this case, whenever the poster tried to use a $150 discount e-certificate, United’s booking application quoted him a higher fare.
His conclusion: “This incident confirmed for me the stories I had read about on the FrequentFlier Forum, which made similar allegations about the web sites of other airlines. I no longer trust these sites to provide me with accurate information. It is my belief that the sites provide different (higher) prices for clients who enter discount certificates — effectively negating the discount. I believe that these bait-and-switch practices are illegal and have filed complaints with both the FAA and FTC.”
Questions, answers, opinions? Post them to the Forum!
Feedback from the Frontlines of Travel
We welcome reader feedback on issues related to travel generally and frequent flyer programs in particular. Please use this link to submit comments.
How Many United Miles for Mother’s Day Flowers?
“The last issue reported a United/FTD offer for 30 miles/dollar. It went on to say it is ‘effectively doubled if the purchase is made using a Mileage Plus credit card.’
“Please clarify, I have never seen such an offer for double miles for using the United MP credit card.” [Lance S.]
“When you say ‘From what we’ve seen so far, the best miles-for-flowers payout is from United: a hefty 30 miles per dollar spent at FTD.com, which is effectively doubled if the purchase is made using a Mileage Plus credit card,’ what do you mean with regards to the double miles? Are you saying you get 60 miles per dollar using the Mileage Plus credit card or that you get your 30 plus the mile per dollar rate that you normally get for spending? I don’t see how you get to the 60 if that’s what you mean. Can you clarify?” [Rob]
[FrequentFlier.com replies - Sorry, what we should have said was that you'd earn an extra mile per dollar spent if you charged the FTD purchases to the United credit card. That brings the total to 31 miles per dollar, NOT to 60. Pardon our fuzzy math.]
New AAdvantage Award Fees?
“Just got hit with a $75 fee, each way, to redeem miles for an upgrade on a domestic flight (outside of the 21 day window).
“Agent told me the policy has been in place for over a year (first time I’ve been hit). She told me there is no way to avoid this fee (even by booking online).
“As a frequent business traveler and 2 million-miler on AA, even I think this one is excessive. Unreal.” [K. Schmidt]
[FrequentFlier.com replies - Yes, American's upgrade cash co-pays have been in place for a while now, as we've reported. While the $75 you paid for a one-way domestic upgrade may hurt, just imagine the pain caused by a $350 co-pay for one-way upgrades on Europe flights. Ouch!]
Delta Upgrades, Not
“This is the second trip I have with Delta Airlines. In both cases, I was unable to book online because I wanted to use my miles for an upgrade. I called Delta both times and used my credit card to book flights. I asked to use my miles for upgrades and then was told there were no seats available. They didn’t give me options to book better flights and I didn’t know enough to ask for different routes.
“I could have booked a direct flight from Honolulu to Atlanta and ended up with a flight from Lihue, HI to Los Angeles to Atlanta. I am not able to upgrade because seats are not available plus I have several hours lay over.” [Patti P.]
Not a Delta Fan
“I would like to second Mark H.’s critique [in last week's newsletter] of searching award travel on Delta’s website.
“The site says you can mix award and class levels in an itinerary which was plainly visible when searching NWA’s site. The only way I see to do that type of search on Delta’s site is via the calendar tool. Each time I try to select different classes of travel for outbound and return flights the system replies that the request cannot be processed or some other such gibberish. I don’t have many miles left thankfully but using them just got much more tedious.
“Not a Delta fan.” [Dan D. - Dubuque, IA]
“Should Continental’s board of directors approve a sell-out to United is a breach of trust with and an insult to consumers.
“Anti-trust inquiry ought to be a high priority where this event is directly counter to the whole idea and rationale behind airline deregulation in the late 1970s.
“There is a remarkable parallel here with what went on with Wall Street firms and the banks. The consequences will be similar and the public will bear the consequences.” [Ed N.]
Until next week…
Win a Trip for 2 to Ireland
Enter Global Traveler’s “Ireland” sweepstakes by July 30 for a chance to win an Ireland vacation for two, including air from New York; hotel accommodations in Dublin, Belfast, Donegal, Galway, and Limerick; golf rounds at three courses; rental car for seven days.
[Visit FrequentFlier.com for more travel sweepstakes.]
Deal Alert from SmarterTravel.com
1) $50 Each Way Southwest Sale – Ends Thursday
Southwest’s newly announced sale is smaller than usual, featuring only about 500 routes, but it’s still robust with over 60 departure cities. The featured routes include many of its popular destinations: Boston, Orlando, and San Francisco, among many others. Fares start at $50 one-way or $100 round-trip.
Travel is valid five days out of the week, which offers more availability than recent promotions. Book fares through this Thursday, May 6, for travel through June 23.
2) $278 Delta Caribbean and Latin America Sale
Delta’s latest Caribbean and Latin America sale features spring and summer travel to destinations such as Montego Bay, Guadalajara, San Jose, and St. Lucia. Fares begin at $278 round-trip.
Travel is valid through spring and early summer. Purchase by May 10.
Earn 27,500 American Miles for 5 Hyatt Stays
Between May 3 and July 5, Hyatt Gold Passport members can earn 3,000 AAdvantage bonus miles for each of the first five Hyatt stays, plus an additional 10,000 bonus miles for the fifth stay, for a total of 25,000 miles for five stays.
A maximum of 25,000 bonus miles may be earned during the promotional period. The bonus miles are in addition to the 500 miles per stay normally awarded, so a total of 27,500 miles can be earned for five stays. Gold Passport members must choose to earn AAdvantage miles for their stays.
Registration is required. Call 1-800-228-3360 and cite promotion code AA25K.
(This offer is combinable with Hyatt’s Big Welcome Back promotion: a free night or 5,000 bonus points after every two qualifying stays through June 30.)
US Airways Lowers Fees to Change Awards, Redeposit Miles
With no advance notice or explanation, US Airways has reduced the fees it charges Dividend Miles members to change award tickets and to cancel awards and redeposit miles. Previously, the fees were $150 for domestic awards and $250 for international. Now the fees are $150.
This is the same airline that charges an “award processing fee” between $25 and $50 just to issue an award ticket, and that in 2009 gave away an industry-low 4% of its seats to mile-redeemers.
Does this signal a change in US Airways’ consumer-unfriendly frequent flyer program policies and practices? It’s too soon to say. While welcome, this improvement is just one among many that are needed.